Old Irving Park residents fight to save decades-old tavern - Fox 2 News Headlines

Old Irving Park residents fight to save decades-old tavern

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

It's time to open the bar, and Pat Kennedy turns on the beer signs at the Grayland Pub--something he's been doing every day since he bought the business 15 years ago. The problem is, no one can see the beer signs. In fact, you can barely see the building.

In early July, the city began a major reconstruction of Milwaukee Avenue between Irving Park and Addison and since then, the Grayland Pub has been virtually walled off from the street and the Old Irving Park neighborhood. It's going to remain this way until at least mid-December, perhaps later.

Kennedy says he's only taking in about $100 a day--far less than it costs to operate. He had to layoff a fulltime bartender and has dropped beer prices to generate traffic, charging just three bucks for an imperial pint of Guinness.

"I'm trying to make a living," Kennedy says. "I've been here 15 years. Hoping to make it to 16 but it doesn't look good at the moment."

That's where Megan Welsch and Maureen Lontoc come in.

"We feel like we owe him and we want to help him out," says Welsch.

The Old Irving Park residents are using Facebook and other social media to encourage people to patronize the bar during construction, including an event on Saturday called "Kennedy's Krawl."

"We're basically saying come in, have a pint, watch a game, bring your friends, bring your buddies and help support the local business," explains Lontoc.

"I mean it's awesome," Kennedy says of the support. "That's what makes the neighborhood bar what it used to be. There aren't too many of us left in the city anymore."

45th Ward Alderman John Arena says construction crews are already a month behind on the road project and he's pushing as hard as he can.

"All I can say is we want him to hang on. The project won't last forever," Arena tells FOX 32. "We're going to move it along as fast as possible and again, the community is responding and trying to find ways to bring people in."

A helping hand from neighbors for a tavern virtually barricaded from its neighborhood.

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